By Leo Widrich, Co-Founder, Buffer
The last year has been absolutely crazy year for us here at Buffer. We’ve turned a lot of things upside down and learnt a huge amount about scaling and building out our business.
When it comes to our social media presence, we’ve made a lot of drastic changes too, a lot of which have had a surprisingly huge impact on our business. Here are the top 5 things we’ve changed that helped us reach and interact with more awesome people:
1. Let Everybody Blog, Facebook & Tweet
The first key change we made was to allow everyone on the team to post Tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates. It made a massive difference to really describe our transparency and offer different flavors to posting.
A great quote that one of my favorite Social Media experts Jay Baer once mentioned to me, describes this the best:
"Social Media isn’t a department. It is more like the telephone or the typewriter. Because it's so early, we have specialists using it. Eventually, this will simply be another communication channel that everyone uses, without wondering who and how."
With everyone blogging, you tell a much better story. Alyssa on our team started to write about how we go about customer service. Tom started posting awesome pictures to Facebook he found that got more exposure than anything else we’ve ever posted before. For everyone observing, it becomes a lot more fun and interesting. It’s not just one guy any more.
If you're thinking of trying this, this was a crucial finding for us: Not everyone is confident to immediately go in and share to your company’s Facebook wall and Twitter feed. Encouraging everyone and briefly brainstorming on what they might like to share is very powerful.
We’ve started to discuss this a lot internally beforehand and quickly everyone started dipping their feet into the cold water with a tweet, Facebook post and eventually an article. Especially the idea of “co-producing” the first tweets, Facebook posts and blog posts has worked extremely well for us to get more people on the team started.
2. Respond Fast & Use Your Name
Another key change we made is to radically personalize our company’s Twitter account and focusing on decreasing response times.What we’ve realized was that the more personal we would interact, the more likely people were to respond, share their love about Buffer and eventually even upgrade to a paid account.
Here are a few key things we’ve changed:
We’ve listed everyone on the team in our Twitter bio to make it clear that there are real people Tweeting and responding:
We have started to end every Tweet with the person’s first name. There seems to be the suggestion to use initials like “LW” to end Tweets, but I’ve always found this to be quite unpersonal. Using first names, makes a huge difference:
Another key improvement we’ve made was to decrease our response time to incoming Tweets dramatically.
All this led to hundreds of more Twitter mentions, with people using personal names such as “Alyssa from Buffer” instead of just “Buffer.” It triggered way more interactions and most importantly, made chatting on Social Media a lot more fun and casual.
3. Email: Change from “no reply” to, “please, reply”
Another big change we’ve made, that strictly speaking wasn’t a social media focused improvement, but had a massive impact on social media, was how we went about sending out our emails.
This is actually something we’ve done from the very beginning, yet recently started to double down on. Every email we send out has a short note or PS at the end, urging you to respond to us, as we’ll do the same.
The results? Dozens of friendly replies, tweets and even press, simply emphasizing our friendly approach when working with users:
If you haven’t tried this yet, be sure to give it a go. The impact you can have with a simple friendly note that you are around to answer any questions can go a long way. It makes a point about transparency and approachability that is hard to make in any other way.
4. Blog About More Topics
Another change, which was admittedly also extremely painful, was the direction of our blog.
We’ve moved from being a “Social Media” blog, to a resource about “Lifehacks, writing, customer happiness and business.” What I found was that we had reached somewhat of a local maximum for the content we have been writing in the social media space. Moving out of my comfort zone and starting to write more about broader topics was definitely very challenging at first, yet also extremely rewarding eventually.
The best way to describe this change is with a recent presentation from content marketing king Rand Fishkin, titled “The content marketing manifesto.” In short, we stopped writing for our customers and started to produce content for anyone who interacts with a potential customer of ours.
The results of this new focus were dramatic for us. From the traditional 100-200 shares per post, we were able to quintuple that to over 1,000 new shares per article:
Thinking hard about “Who am I blogging for?” is often a question easier asked than answered. Using Rand Fishkin’s relevance scale, I believe you have a fantastic tool to quickly gauge whether your blog content needs tweaking or is already on the right track.
5. Rediscover the Facebook “Follow” Button
The last key insight I wanted to share was our rediscovery of the Facebook “follow” button, formerly the “Subscribe” button.
Interestingly, this is something that is still very rarely used, yet can have a powerful impact. In our case, it helped a large majority of our team to grow a substantial Facebook following, triggering vastly more engagement on each post shared.
Especially now that “follow” is most likely a lot easier to understand than the previous less compelling “subscribe,” I’m convinced that we will see a lot more usage of this Facebook feature.
This also goes hand in hand, with focusing on transparency and personal appearance, if your blog readers can engage with team members personally and not just their brand.
In the middle of writing this article it definitely became a lot more clear to me, where the overall theme of social media is going for us: Towards more personal interaction, transparency and better story telling.
How have your social media tactics and strategies changed over time? I’d love your thoughts on this and where else we could improve!